Calling Hebrew scholars: Draft manuscript on translating Genesis 1-2

Scott Christie would like feedback on his new manuscript, “The Beginning: A literal translation of Creation,” available here.  It gets into details of the Hebrew words, and will be of interest to those with knowledge of the Hebrew language. In my overview of the draft, I can see that he has put significant time into cross-referencing how words are used in other contexts in the Bible.

Scott welcomes comments and feedback.

David Snoke

About David Snoke

Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh
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4 comments


  1. See my comments on the Amazon review at http://www.amazon.com/review/RMD0M2FCXBTC9/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg1?ie=UTF8&asin=B005AO8VSY&cdForum=Fx1HOLSAFUL9X6&cdPage=1&cdThread=Tx1MKTPE4HPLEUG&store=digital-text#wasThisHelpful My comments and the responses from the reviewer are pertinent to a lot of the material in your manuscript, especially in relation to the parts about the flood of Noah.

  2. Jim Green says:

    Scott:

    You have obviously done a lot of work in studying the Genesis creation account. I applaud your effort to rightly divide the word of God and discern its real meaning. However, it appears you are trying to force extensive time into the text similar to Day-Age theology. In your desire to harmonize science and scripture, you are trying to make scripture say something it does not say.

    Although Strong’s Concordance and multiple English translations can be enlightening when studying Genesis, they do not offer a solution. A proper solution requires studying the Hebrew text and comparing the syntax and grammar of Genesis with the rest of the Old Testament. Traditional interpretations use some words in Genesis in a special way that is indefensible. Genesis has been misinterpreted for over two thousand years and study of the Hebrew text is essential to determine the true meaning.

    The best book I have read on the subject is The Real Genesis Creation Story: A Credible Translation and Explanation at Last by J. Gene White. Of the many books I have read, this is the most rational, logical and biblically sound book I have come across. From my perspective, this book is a winner. I strongly recommend you read this book before continuing your project.

    Jim Green

    • Scott says:

      Jim, I would be interested in whether you believe the plural used in Gen. 1:26 referred to the Trinity. Thanks, Scott

    • Scott Christie says:

      Jim, thanks for your feedback regarding the proper understanding of the Hebrew. I’ve added the following to my preface and would like to get your thoughts. Thanks,

      I submitted my first draft of this book to the Christian Scientific Society in order to get feedback in order to make sure I wasn’t entirely off-base. Only two people responded which was a little upsetting. Both brought up the idea that my understanding of Hebrew was lacking and that I couldn’t change the meaning and understanding of how the Hebrew was written and understood when it was written and how Jews understood that written word. Specifically, they brought up the meaning of the word “Yom” which is used for “day” or other longer periods of time. They insisted that in the six-day account of Genesis Chapter 1, Jews would have understood the use of yom as strictly being a 24-hour period and not a longer period of time. I wanted to know for myself if this was true. So I thought that I probably needed to become an expert in Hebrew. That was a daunting prospect as I googled all types of reference and do-it-yourself learn Hebrew books. Then I remember a passage in the New Testament about Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-35.

      Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading (Isaiah 53:7-8):

      “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
      and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
      so he did not open his mouth.
      33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
      Who can speak of his descendants?
      For his life was taken from the earth.”

      34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
      According to Rabbi Tovia Singer’s article titled Who is God’s Suffering Servant? The Rabbinic Interpretation of Isaiah 53,
      “The prevailing rabbinic interpretation of Isaiah 53 ascribes the “servant” to the nation of Israel who silently endured unimaginable suffering at the hands of its gentile oppressors. He goes on to state that Conservative Christians, on the other hand, strongly argue against the Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53 for a number of expected reasons. Historically, the Church has relentlessly used Isaiah 53 as its most important proof-text in order to demonstrate the veracity of the Gospels. They argue that this chapter proves that Jesus’ death was explicitly prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures.”
      “In fact, widespread Christian teachings throughout history concluded that the suffering of the Jews illustrates the wrongness of their beliefs, while the suffering of Jesus and his followers illustrates the truth and veracity of the Cross. As a result, conservative Christians are unyielding in their rejection of the Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53.”
      So which is the correct interpretation? I would argue that both are correct as much symbolism, allegory, and types are used in the Bible. So what was understood in Isaiah 53 as the nation of Israel to the Jews, it is now understood by Christians as a fore-telling of Christ’s suffering and death.
      Why do we have different interpretations of the same text? Jesus told us one reason for this in Matthew 11:25.
      At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
      There are many other verses in the New Testament stating that God revealed the truth until a later time when man was ready for it. So let’s look at some other examples of words used in the Old Testament that mean something totally different in the New Testament.
      In the Parable of the Tenants in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus talks about his own people rejecting the prophets before him and then eventually Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus says that God will kill the people and give the vineyard (kingdom) to others. He then quotes Psalm 118:22-23 referring to himself as the cornerstore.
      Psalm 118:22-23:
      23 The stone the builders rejected
      has become the cornerstone;
      23 the LORD has done this,
      and it is marvelous in our eyes.
      Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, Luke 20:17
      42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
      “‘The stone the builders rejected
      has become the cornerstone;
      the Lord has done this,
      and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

      According to Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume 11 by John King (1847-1850), “The stone which the builders rejected, in these words David boldly pours contempt on the calumnies with which he was unjustly and undeservedly assailed. As there was something ominous in his being condemned by the entire assemblage of the nobles, and all those who were invested with authority, and as the opinion was prevalent, that he was a wicked and rejected man; this error he deliberately refutes, and vindicates his innocence in the face of the principal men among them. “It is of little importance to me that I am abandoned by the chief men, seeing I have been visibly chosen by the judgment of God to be king over Israel.”

      So to the Hebrew, the cornerstone referred to David himself. To the Christian, the cornerstone referred to Jesus.

      Another example is Zechariah 13:7 using the words “shepherd” and “sheep”.
      “Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
      against the man who is close to me!”
      declares the LORD Almighty.
      “Strike the shepherd,
      and the sheep will be scattered,
      and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
      Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27
      31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
      “‘I will strike the shepherd,
      and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.

      According to Uri Yosef, PhD, in the Messiah Truth Project, Zechariah chapter 13:

      The first six verses of this chapter deal with the removal of impurity from Judah. Zechariah speaks of a false prophet stabbed to death by his parents for his deceitful activities. The prophet also describes the lamenting by the false prophets about being farm hands and shepherds from their youth, and having been assaulted and beaten up in familiar surroundings.
      The last three verses of the chapter describe the punishment of (a sword turned against) the enemies of Israel. The leaders of the (Gentile) nations were the shepherds, God’s colleagues, to whom He entrusted the fate of His people Israel (the flock). However, when they oppress instead of guard “the flock”, God will unleash the sword against them. Then, the flock will be free to escape, and God will turn His vengeance even against the subordinates who helped molest Israel.

      So according to Yosef, the shepherd was not interpreted by the Jews as the messiah. However, Jesus himself refers to the verses in Zechariah to show that he is the shepherd and his followers, the sheep, fill be scattered when he is arrested and crucified.

      The point is that what was understood as one thing by the Hebrews either in ancient times or today have been reinterpreted and understood as something different by Jesus himself for those in a later time and for us today.

      Why can’t this be true for the other words used in the Old Testament such as “Yom” for day or a long period. Can’t the days of Genesis Chapter 1 mean a 24-hour day to the ancient Hebrew but a longer period of time to us since we now have new scientific information regarding the earth and universe?
      As God hid things from the wise and learned in the past and revealed them to his children at a later time, why couldn’t things like the age of the earth and universe were also hidden until an even later time? Maybe that later time is now when our God-given intellect and scientific abilities have led us to huge discoveries on the age of the universe and our earth.
      So let us be open to other interpretations of the Hebrew words used in the Old Testament and particularly in Genesis as we make our journey through the creation story.
      With that understanding in mind, we’ll now start our study of the literal translation and interpretation of the Creation story.

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